Archive for September, 2011

Most of us haven’t. If you don’t have any respect for Oscar, and surely there are many valid reasons for that, then you don’t need to worry about the film Adaminte Makan Abu. It also won four National Awards and it made us curious because Oscar or not, a good film is a good film. So we asked our good ol’ Mallu friend Prasanth Vijay to write a review post for us. Read on…

Abur Sansar

As it happens once in a while in Indian cinema, Davids come out of nowhere and walk over the Goliaths. The latest in line being Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam) which has become the country’s official entry for Oscar this year. Majority in Kerala, except a few of us who had been following the reports of its making, had a similar shock when the National awards were announced a couple of months ago and Abu won four major awards. It was a natural extension to see the film winning another four at the state awards a few days later (though many argue that this wouldn’t have happened without the National awards win). On hindsight, none of this is too hard to understand because parallel cinema in India is always forced to remain under a veil until a saviour comes along and salvages it (though sadly for many, this never happens).

Adaminte Makan Abu is about an old Muslim couple whose greatest dream in life is to attend Hajj pilgrimage. Over many years, they scrimp and save small sums for this out of their modest living. Things begin to fall in place, and they start preparing for the pilgrimage when calamity strikes in an unforeseen way and they are almost back to square one. Around the protagonists is the rustic panorama of a Kerala village (now a highly endangered entity) and its inhabitants who touch on their lives constantly. The towering achievement of the creators of the movie is turning this seemingly clichéd and possibly melodramatic synopsis into a well-crafted film which culminates in a much higher level of composure and optimism. And for the record, it’s certainly NOT poverty porn. It is about hope, and about a virtuous Abu who moves us to tears by the goodness of his character, rather than by his trials and tribulations.

Abu, a street medicine and perfume vendor is a staunch believer in his religion. And religion serves its true purpose here, making Abu a great human being who is at one with all of nature, not just the humans in it. He accepts that the purity of the means he takes up is as or even more important than the end. He doesn’t have to mull over even a little to resist temptations, however harmless they seem. There is a Malayalam verse which defines ‘courageous’ as the one whose mind doesn’t flicker the slightest even when there are strong reasons. Amidst heroes whose morals stoop when pressed by circumstances, Abu’s frail figure looms above them as the bravest of recent times, though too insignificant to matter to anyone else. True, it is a nearly fanatic faith in his religion that backs him, but with his clarity he touches the essence of it which is nothing but love and goodness, even if it’s unrequited.

Salim Ahamed, the writer- director of the film was as unknown as the film till the National awards. The creative mastery and the maturity of craft of the debutant are commendable. The artistic honesty he has brought into each frame is what has saved the film from falling into the possible traps of cliché and melodrama. It’s well detailed- from elaborately showing the preparations of Hajj pilgrims (which prompted naysayers to call it an extended travel agency ad) to the passing scenes of the wife smelling a lemon to fend off nausea during bus rides. Salim also deserves credit for extracting what he wanted from a seasoned crew- from ace Madhu Ambat wielding a digital camera for the first time to magical musician Issac Thomas Kottukapally creating music out of silences and Pattanam Rasheed for whom adding a few decades to a person’s face is never a big deal. The cast also has prominent artists even in minor roles so that they stay etched in our minds. Zarina Wahab becomes Ayeshumma as effortlessly as she dons her prayer robe.

It’s unjust to a film or any work of art to say that one element of it rises above the rest. But Salim Kumar, playing Abu stands out here because of his inseparability from the film. An accomplishment which is likely to be widely overlooked by viewers outside the home state is the unparalleled makeover he has undergone to become the character. Salim who has received popularity among masses and occasional brickbats from critics for his slapstick roles (which were by no means easy feats!), has proved the versatile actor in him whenever given a chance- in Achanurangatha Veedu (2006) and Bridge (segment in the anthology film Kerala Cafe). He lives as Abu the way no other actor in the world could have.

Adaminte Makan Abu is undoubtedly a lucky film – right from its conception to its reception. It might not be “the best” of its times, but it surely deserves most of the accolades it has already been honoured with. It may be considered as the prize for the honesty and sincerity that went into its making. In an industry that churns out either insignificant trash or over-hyped pseudo classics, this noble film marks itself by its restraint and lucidity. It’s another instance of many right things happening together towards a greater goal. Where mediocrity is celebrated and excellence is even denied birth, it’s not enough that we have visionary and resourceful film-makers. They should also have the blessing of fortune shining on them to materialise their dreams. May their tribe increase!

I Will Read Your Fucking Script!

Posted: September 24, 2011 by moifightclub in cinema, writing
Tags: , , , ,

Charlie Kaufman: There are no rules, Donald. And anyone who says there are is just, you know…

Donald Kaufman: Not rules, principles. McKee writes that a rule says you *must* do it this way. A principle says, this *works* and has through all remembered time.

The header is a homage to this brilliant post by screenwriter Josh Olson. If you haven’t read it yet, click here and do read.

So i was lucky to get the script of Mausam(don’t ask how), read it and wrote this post. (Should i have or shouldn’t, well, that’s a topic for another discussion. You can join the debate on John August’s blog) And what i wrote about Mausam, it seems the film turned out to be the same. I would have been happy to be proved wrong but then, i guess, i can at least read scripts. And this wasn’t the first time. I also managed to read the terrible scripts of Luck and Game much before the films released. Had put an open bet on Luck, and it turned out to be exactly the same. Did the same with Game but we had to remove the post on Game because the makers threatened us with legal notice and God knows what all! But heard that thing about shakti ka santoolan? Read Maqbool. Nothing could save the film. There you go! The point is I am not trying to boast about my great skills at reading scripts and predicting how shitty they are. Trust me, anyone with some serious interest in screenwriting can do so. The point is the complete disregard for the script and screenwriting. As if it just doesn’t matter. As if weekend is all we have, make something with stars and songs, package it well, sell it, and you are done. Shit can work at the box office and it will continue to do so but that’s no excuse to start making a film with just unadulterated shit.

Charlie Kaufman: I’ve written myself into my screenplay.

Donald Kaufman: That’s kind of weird, huh?

As i struggle with my script in this Bollylalaland, i have been trying to find out how scripts get selected and funded by producers and directors. And in this quest, i chanced upon these three film scripts. It left me wondering if anyone really reads the scripts here, and if so, who are these people? I haven’t been able to find the answer yet. If you have the answer, do let me know.

The easy route is to design “projects”. If you have access (say friends, relatives) to the stars (Salman, Shah Rukh, Akshay, Imran, Ranbir), make them agree to your “story idea”, and then quickly write a film and you get the funds easily. Strangely that’s the way most stars prefer to work here. That’s why you would rarely see a star coming out of his comfortable cocoon of friends/coterie and acting in a newcomer’s film. May be Aamir is the only exception. And it has worked wonders for him. SRK is the smartest guy in B-town but i don’t know why his choices are so bad. May be because he prefers to work only with friends.

Now, if this is the only way, then why do we shout out from roof top that we don’t have good scripts or screenwriters. Sometimes people like Akshat Varma get lucky after some nine years. Read here.

So coming back to Luck, Game and Mausam – who read those scripts? And if someone did, can they really, really read it? So how they got made? Let’s try.

Charlie Kaufman: You sound like your in a cult.

Donald Kaufman: No, it’s just good writing technique. Oh, I made you a copy of Mckee’s ten commandments, I posted it over both our work stations.

[Charlie tears the page from over his work area]

Donald Kaufman: [in threatening tone] You shouldn’t have done that.


Donald Kaufman: ‘Cause it’s extremely helpful.

Luck – directed by Soham Shah. Produced by Ashtavinayak and Studio18. Stars Imran Khan. That makes it a family affair. Easy to get funded.

Game – It seems one of the Excel guys were super impressed with the script written by air hostess-turned-screenwriter Althea Delmas Kaushan. Bingo! Farhan read it? Abhinay Deo read it too? Of course we all can go wrong in our judgement but to separate the shit from the rest, that doesn’t need much talent. I’m lost here.

Mausam – Pankaj Kapoor had a script. Pankaj Kapoor has a son called Shahid Kapoor. Pankaj Kapoor wants to direct a film. That’s simple.

Even with all the possible permutations and combinations it’s hard to believe that the producers are willing to spend Rs 30-50 crore on these scripts just on the basis of stars or “projects”. Let’s dissect Game.

Stars – Abhishek Bachchan, Kangana Ranaut, Shahana Goswami.

Director – Abhinay Deo. Debut film. But a well known name in advertising.

Banner – Excel Entertainment & Eros Entertainment. The producer and the financier. Excel : Well established banner known for making sleek and smart films catering to urban audience. Supposedly the coolest guys in B-town.

Budget – Rs 40 crore.

BO Collection – Rs 4.8 crore (1st week). Verdict – Disaster.

Not sure what kind of proposals Excel made to woo Eros with that script of Game. We got stars, we got hit music directors Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. Let’s roll it baby? Or was there some black magic involved? Enlighten me please! If the starting point for making the “project” was the same script that we read, am not sure why would anyone like to go ahead with it.

[to Charlie]

Robert McKee: I’ll tell you a secret. The last act makes a film. Wow them in the end, and you got a hit. You can have flaws, problems, but wow them in the end, and you’ve got a hit. Find an ending, but don’t cheat, and don’t you dare bring in a deus ex machina. Your characters must change, and the change must come from them. Do that, and you’ll be fine.

The other argument (and possibly the strongest) that has emerged this year is we don’t need anything. Fck scripts, we have Salman Khan. Agree. But not everyone is Salman. And not every film can be saved by Salman either. Remember Veer, London Dreams, Main Aur Mrs Khanna, Yuvraj? The flop list is long too. Salman has to be that cinematic comfort food as Anupama Chopra points out in this esaay. Try anything else with him and you are not sure what will happen. And you are also not sure how long will people still enjoy that comfort food. That’s the reason why everyone is desperately looking down South to find the next movie in which Bhai can “act” and they can make money. It’s the Rajnikant-isation of Bhai.

And that’s a lazy ass logic. As Mark Kermode points out in this essay, blockbuster doesn’t have to be dumb. Why be Michael Bay when you could be Nolan? Or in desi context, why be Bazmee when you can be Hirani? Even in hindi mainstream films there are filmmakers like Mani Ratnam, RajKumar Hirani, Sriram Raghavan, Imtiaz Ali, Dibakar Bannerjee, Shimit Amin, Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Basu who always try to find that perfect balance. The result might not be satisfactory always, but you can’t blame them for not trying. We have turned the genre of “mainstream masala” as an excuse for making bad films. Slumdog Millionaire is bollywood mainstream masala and so is Main Hoona Na. And i enjoyed both (except that Indo-Pak bit in MHN). Masala done well is also cinema. We are not being purists when we dismiss the bad ones, the masala or the arty-farty. But let’s stop giggling every time someone farts onscreen and calls it “mainstream masala” that entertains.

Donald Kaufman: Hey, Charles. I pitched my script to mom.

Charlie Kaufman: Don’t say pitch.

I have realised that the biggest problem here is to make people read. 120 pages? Nobody has the patience. Narrate it to us. It’s a unique place where people don’t read but make films. Herzog surely would have committed suicide. And i used to think that this culture of narration is only for the stars. Because they are the “stars”. They don’t have the time and you can’t make films without them, so you don’t have a choice but to narrate. But now i have realised that even the producers and directors wants a narration. Nobody wants to read. Some big directors even glorify the way they narrate their films with all band-bajaa-baraat. I think that culture of “not reading” scripts led to the culture of “no readers” at any production house.

[first lines]

Charlie Kaufman: [voiceover] Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn’t be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There’s something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I’m way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn’t fat I would be happier. I wouldn’t have to wear these shirts with the tails out all the time. Like that’s fooling anyone. Fat ass. I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. Really do it this time. Maybe rock climbing. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more, improve myself. What if I learned Russian or something? Or took up an instrument? I could speak Chinese. I’d be the screenwriter who speaks Chinese and plays the oboe. That would be cool. I should get my hair cut short. Stop trying to fool myself and everyone else into thinking I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that? Just be real. Confident. Isn’t that what women are attracted to? Men don’t have to be attractive. But that’s not true. Especially these days. Almost as much pressure on men as there is on women these days. Why should I be made to feel I have to apologize for my existence? Maybe it’s my brain chemistry. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. Bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses. I need to get help for that. But I’ll still be ugly though. Nothing’s gonna change that.

I don’t know any production house which has some sensible and professional readers whose job is to read and understand scripts and  to say why the film should be made or shouldn’t be. Forget sensible and professional, there is no system in place anyway. Black List? That’s Utopia! Plus, there are few more issues –

a) Almost every director wants to write.

b) Almost everyone feels that just directing is not creative enough. They want credits even for giving feedback on scripts.

c) Everyone has ten great ideas but writing 120 pages is too much work.

I also find it very strange the way most directors and writers are so secretive about their scripts as if it’s the next big thing. If it’s a high-concept film, it’s easy to understand the madness to keep it under wraps. But when was the last time someone made a concept film in Bollywood? Look at the films we are making every year, I find it’s a funny situation the way we want to hide these scripts. Feels like it’s more of an insecurity. Imagine if someone reads the scripts and tells that it sucks, the film will not get made then? Nobody takes the feedback in positive way – someone says it’s shit. Ok, let’s work on it. Make it better. What do you tell the producer who has spent money on films like Rakht Charitra, Rann, Jhootha Hi Sahi and Mausam? Hire someone who can read scripts!

Charlie Kaufman: To begin… To begin… How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana-nut. That’s a good muffin.

Look at QT. He leaked the script of Inglourious Basterds almost a year before he started shooting. Same with his latest one Django Unchained. When you are confident that it’s a good script, am not sure what’s the reason to hide. Think, people will read it, spread the good word and will eagerly wait for it to arrive. And if you are interested to read the script reviews of Hollywood films, click here.

Trying to source the  scripts post-release seems to be a difficult game too. And i ask for it so that the script can be shared here on the blog, and anyone who is interested in screenwriting, can read it. Thanks to Vikramaditya Motwane, have managed to put only Udaan’s script so far. I guess the rest loves tom-toming about their scripts going to Oscar library.

I have also been told that since the script reviews appeared on this blog, many production houses have become more strict with their scripts. No soft copies, no working from home, come to office and write. Someone even described a funny scene at one of the production house whose script we had got. But as long as you have disgruntled ADs in your team, i think we don’t need to worry. And knowing the way most people behave with their ADs, disgruntled is not a very hard emotion to achieve. And if not us, then someone else. I just hope that they devote more time working on the scripts rather then trying to save it from getting leaked.

We do get to read many scripts written by our friends who are writers and filmmakers. Believe it or not there are people who value our opinion. We don’t go to town tom-toming about it. Only when it is ridiculously bad and you get to know that someone is spending shitload of money on it, it’s difficult to control yourself and sit silent. You feel like shouting that it’s shit and you feel happy when you are proved right. Should we celebrate a Hattrick?! Just some cheap thrills. Nobody is paying us to do so. And you can do the same when you get our scripts. Dissect it the way you want. Till then it’s time to go back to a new draft of the script which nobody wants to read. Or to let’s see if we have got some new scripts.

Charlie Kaufman: [voice-over] I am pathetic, I am a loser…

Robert McKee: So what is the substance of writing?

Charlie Kaufman: [voice-over] I have failed, I am panicked. I’ve sold out, I am worthless, I… What the fuck am I doing here? What the fuck am I doing here? Fuck. It is my weakness, my ultimate lack of conviction that brings me here. Easy answers used to shortcut yourself to success. And here I am because my jump into the abysmal well – isn’t that just a risk one takes when attempting something new? I should leave here right now. I’ll start over. I need to face this project head on and…

Robert McKee: …and God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character.

If I ever convert to Islam, put the blame on A R Rahman. Aha, that’s rhyme too. Piya Haji Ali, Maula maula and Khwaja mere khwaja – can play these three songs in non-stop loop.  And Rahman is going in similar territory again, with a new track in Imtiaz Ali’ Rockstar – Kun faaya kun.

Click on the play button and enjoy! It’s sung by Rahman, Mohit Chauhan and Javed Ali.

And here’s the making of the song/video…

Tip : DaMovieManiac

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We are bit late on this news. But if you still haven’t read enough, here it is – Deepa Mehta has completed the shooting of Midnight’s Children, the film based on Salman Rushdie’s novel by the same name. Some clips from the film were shown at the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival.

The adaptation has also been written by Rushdie.  The film stars Satya Bhabha, Siddharth, Shriya Saran, Shahana Goswami,  Rajat Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Ronit Roy, Darsheel Safary, Rahul Bose, and Samrat Chakrabarti.

Click on the play button to check out Salman Rushdie talking about the adaptation. TIFF’s Cameron Bailey moderated the session.

The 13th Mumbai Film Festival, a Reliance Entertainment initiative, will be held in Mumbai from the 13th to the 20th of October 2011.

The festival has just announced its jury for this year’s edition. The jury members for the international competition section are…

1. Academy Award nominee director Hugh Hudson (Jury President, International competition),

2. Roger Spottiswoode – director of James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and the Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer ‘The 6th Day’

3. Acclaimed Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski

4. Young Korean director Na Hong-Jin who received numerous awards and acclaim for his films ‘The Chaser’ and ‘The Yellow Sea’.

VENUE :  This year the main hub for the festival will be Cinemax Versova and other venues include Cinemax Sion and Metro BIG cinemas.

 – Basu Chatterjee, director of films like Gudgudee, Chameli Ki Shaadi amongst numerous others, is the Chairman of the Harmony Celebrate Age Jury. Harmony Celebrate Age aims to encourage filmmakers to look beyond the stereotypes of old age and to look at the positive side of ageing.

– The Dimensions Mumbai section of the festival include young directors like…

1. Kiran Rao (Dhobi Ghat) (Chairperson- Dimension Mumbai Jury)

2. Vikram Aditya Motwane (Udaan)

3. Nishikant Kamat (Mumbai Meri Jaan)

4. Onir (My Brother Nikhil)

5. Renuka Shahane

Dimensions Mumbai, a short film competition open to Mumbaikars below the age of 25 years, where a short film depicting any aspect of life in Mumbai can be submitted.

RIP Malegaon Ka Superman

Posted: September 7, 2011 by moifightclub in cinema, RIP
Tags: , , ,

Sheikh Shafique – the Superman of Malegaon – the fighter of local crime, social ills, unhealthy practices (including tobacco chewing) died today morning of mouth-cancer due to tobacco chewing, just a day after the Malegaon premiere of his film yesterday. A death most poetic, of a Superhero most odd. Rest in peace.

via Varun Grover’s FB wall

To read about the film and the actor, click here (HT -Malegaon Ka Superman: Small budget, big ripples), here ( OutLook : Sirens Of Malewood) and here.

After graduating with an MBA degree and working for five years in Pune and Delhi, Neeraj Ghaywan moved to Mumbai. A new job for another 3 months and then he quit it all. To live, breathe and make Cinema. He started working with Anurag Kashyap. Life hasn’t been much easier since then but Ghaywan survived. Assisted Kashyap on Wasseypur and after working with him for a year, he has now directed a short called Shor. I saw it, loved it, and never thought that AK School Of Filmmaking could churn out another graduate so fast. In this post, Ghaywan blogs about making his short, from research to writing, casting to on.. Some stills and the trailer is attached.

I read this research snippet about a woman doing a research on the influence of hormones on relationships. A part of the research involved the woman standing on an empty street asking out men for a date. She asked over 20 men. Her success rate was 40%. She did the same thing on a dangling bridge on a rough weather day. Her success rate jumped to about 85%. Though the static may not be exact but the hypothesis that she arrived at was that people are vulnerable to fall in love in dangerous situations. I had forgotten the article but it stuck in my subconscious and eventually led to an idea about the human condition at the face of death. When we embrace death, our most vulnerable time, we find our truest side. We confront what really matters to us. That became the basis for Shor. Yes, I wasn’t too happy with the title myself but when you see the film you’ll realize we couldn’t have come up with another name.

Shor is about Lallan and Meena, a couple from Banaras (North India), consumed by their pursuit to survive in the seedy ghettos of Mumbai city. Lallan has lost his job at the factory and ambles about hopelessly searching for a way out. Meena has taken up tailoring to make ends meet, losing touch with her emotions, and almost turning into a machine herself. One day they truly find each other while embracing death, divorce and redemption, all just over a phone call.

I had the basic structure of the script ready but I didn’t want to compromise with the culture and milieu of the characters. For me it is very essential to have the premise to adhere to a agreed upon set of culture and ethos. I used to take autorickshaw rides and speak to the drivers at length, recording the conversation on my phone and later make notes from it. I must have spoken to some 40 odd rickshaw drivers to arrive at 4 of them who were from Banaras. I conducted a focus group with these people, inviting them to my house. Yes yes, I have an academic and corporate background and old habits die hard. Anyway, I spoke to them for a long time about their lives, their homes, how they dealt with their wives, I made them call their wives and understand how they spoke to them in crisis etc. Finally, I wrote the script along with dialogue. I was very scared and excited. It was ready and I had to show it to Anurag ( I was assisting him on Wasseypur). It’s like you are going for an appraisal interview to your boss. He read the first page and rejected it. He didn’t read further and I was heartbroken. I felt terrible, this was not just a short film script, but my first work to my boss and he had rejected it. Some people rubbed it in. I almost felt like abandoning the whole idea of becoming a filmmaker. It was humiliating. I thought I should still do this.

I called my rickshawala brotherhood. I decided to go to their homes. Some of them were kind enough to oblige. I spent time at their place; observing their lifestyle, the objects in their houses, the kids, the neighborhood, what they did in their free time, what pained them, what made them happy etc. It helped in understanding their lifestyle and most importantly what language they spoke. Now that I had enough material, I started rewriting the dialogues. When you start writing dialogues, you realize how difficult is writing a screenplay as against a book or a short story. The research helped me in identifying the insecurities that they lived with and how they expressed themselves. I wrote a draft and ran it past Vineet Singh (the lead actor of Shor) and Varun Grover ( a writer friend). They made some tone and grammar corrections with the dialogue I wrote. By the way, Vineet Singh has the fine charm of the angry young man and I have lost the count of how many languages he knows. Finally Anurag read the script. He said it has great potential if I had established the two characters in the same space. He had couple of ideas. I put everything together but didn’t show the final draft which by the way, was the tenth draft.

I just wanted to go ahead and shoot. The more I deliberated the more I’d distance from the passion to make it. Also, there was this pressure of having assisted for only six months and here I was, attempting to make a difficult short film in complete guerrilla style. The folks at loved the script and I was ready to go. But there was one problem; the shooting process could only be started in August along with the competing short films, which was completely understandable. But I couldn’t have shot in the monsoons as the film was mostly in difficult exterior locations. So I borrowed money from friends for the shoot (Thank You Anubhuti Kashyap and Suresh Nayak). We got into pre-production, Rishabh and Puja jumped into help me on the film. Rishabh was great help on the locations and convincing people for the shoot.  Puja is responsible for the look  and the costumes. Poor her, she had to stay away from the action for all the work. They have really worked hard during the film. Super line producer Deep Singh came on board. We did the shot breakdowns, location recces and the research for costume, art and the train routes and stations. Mukesh Chhabra unconditionally helped me to understand what to look for while casting actors. He even did couple of auditions for me.

Umpteen number of rehearsals happened. Ratnabali, the female lead of Shor, was doing English theatre. To be honest, I was panicking because I wanted everyone to get the accent right. I am a stickler for accents. Vineet and I had a lot of sessions on accent modulation with Ratnabali. And when we did the final rehearsal, Ratnabali took me by surprise. I was shocked the way she picked the nuances of the culture. Amardeep Jha, agreed to play the amma. She was perfect in that role and she brought in her own mannerisms to add depth to her role. I remember someone telling me “Oh wow, she’s Sharman’s mom from Three Idiots”.

After an elaborate session we finally arrived at the shot break down. I am of the opinion that it’s almost impossible to replicate the feel of real locations and objects. I abstained from an extensive production design, relying completely on the property available on location (Malwani and Dharavi). . You can never think of a plastic toy of a swan couple with a broken wing. Like how coincidental is that!One of the auto drivers from the research, Pavan Sharma offered his house to make it as our crew base. His neighbor Irshad Shah offered his house as the main house of the film. Not only that, he and his wife also acted in the film. Pavan’s son was the little kid who plays Lallan and Meena’s son. His expressions still haunt me. Milind Shirke, my DoP is fantastic at guerrilla shoots. In public locations he would just hold the camera and either look away or talk over the phone. He used to tell me that if you set the frame, don’t look into the viewfinder for static shots. When you look in to your camera’s view finder, that’s when people look into the camera. He has great sense of framing and very quick at conceptualizing them too. We shot on Canon 7D as the motion capture is better on a 7D as against 5D. For the wide top angle shots, I got the watchman of the only tall building in the ghetto to agree use the building terrace. On the day of the shoot he backed out. In my broken Bhojpuri I made him believe that we are shooting a docu which is about ‘our people’ from Bihar and this film will be a ‘message to the government to listen to us to our woes’. That watchman got all charged up; thankfully he never asked me what I was fighting against. He was all supportive but he still declined. And then I realized he is expecting me to bribe him. I never felt so guilty in my life to have bribed someone, not even when I got caught driving without a license. It was a great idea to go all guerrilla with the shoot.

Without the guerrilla style, the film could have easily become one of the most expensive short films in India. More than the saving, it gave us the freedom of canning the shots exactly the way we wanted. The authorities would have never allowed us to take certain shots if we had shot with permissions. Honestly, if we were caught, we all would have been in jail. To avoid that, we made rules. No three people will be seen together, video assist was avoided. As much as I wanted it, we didn’t take the boom mike. We managed to shoot in sync sound with couple of lapels and a mini sound recorder for ambience. Every location we would find a make-shift base and hide whenever cops or some authorities would come around. I can’t thank Vineet and Ratnabali enough for their courage and conviction. They both risked their lives while shooting for Shor.

Post production took way longer than I had anticipated. I am working on the post-production of Wasseypur and I made Shor in between all the running around for Wasseypur. That was the most difficult part. I had to teleport myself from one studio to another studio, one film to another. Both films were equally close to my heart and it was difficult juggling and two timing. Thankfully, I had a great editor in Nitin Baid. I was handling post and he was assisting the head editor,Shweta Venkat for Wasseypur. They are a lovely team to work with. For few days, when I ran out of money for studios, Shweta loaned her macbook to me and also allowed Nitin to work on Shor while working on Wasseypur. It was great help. Zahir Bandukwala designed the sound and Suhaas Ahuja (You will soon experience their work in That Girl In Yellow Boots). We did a 5.1 surround mix for sound and think it really is achievement by the sound team to pull of sync sound in such difficult locations . Vijesh Rajan, is a bundle of joy to work with. He did the VFX, color correction ( made a DSLR short film look like a film)  and the titles. He also made the poster.

I don’t know which filmmaker said this that the biggest task for a filmmaker is to assemble a great team which is excited about the project. That’s what worked for me the most. All of this was possible through Most of the cast and crew were found on their portal. It’s a great platform to discover talent from all corners of India. I am eternally indebted to for not only funding the project but also to give us a platform to make this happen. Above all, thanks Anurag! I owe this to you.

( PS – This post was first published on